Like any other marketing strategy, account-based marketing is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It needs to be employed strategically. Last month, we explored how today’s B2B customers are changing and how that’s driving the need for a more individualized approach to marketing. In this article, we’ll help you assess if your organization should incorporate ABM into your marketing strategy.
There are several scenarios where ABM is the perfect answer. But there are several others where it’s unlikely to get enough traction to be successful. Here’s how to assess your organization’s degree of fit with this hyper-targeted marketing approach.
Where is ABM a perfect fit?
Are you working in a fairly tight, targeted market where you can identify the key companies you want to do business with? Do you have a track record of success? If so, then ABM is worth pursuing.
Ideally, there should be a group of prospect accounts in your market that rise above the rest in terms of:
- Potential revenue,
- Strategic importance,
- Fit for your value proposition,
- Profitability, and
- Other key considerations
Which types of firms should avoid ABM?
If you’re trying to pioneer a new market or if you’re a new entrant to an existing one, ABM probably isn’t a good fit for your firm. Why? Because prospects today are very pragmatic. Inevitably, they’re going to ask, “Who have you worked with that’s similar to us?” If you can’t point to a track record of customer successes, then they probably won’t feel safe selecting you as a vendor.
For that reason, ABM tends to be a poor fit with start-up companies and those that are in the early stages of their life cycle.
Must-have elements for ABM success
In order to launch and maintain a sustainable ABM program, you need several key elements:
Alignment between marketing and sales: The best ABM campaigns are the result of close alignment and buy-in by both departments. Your prospects expect a seamless experience from the first time they visit your website until they sign a purchase agreement.
During the buyer’s journey, marketing must create messages, content and campaigns for sales to execute. In return, sales must provide feedback to marketing, which it can use to refine those assets and tactics. In other words, it must be a symbiotic relationship in which your messaging and sales outreach become more targeted and effective over time.
Without such close alignment, an ABM program can’t possibly get off the ground or maintain enough momentum to be successful.
A collection of high-quality content that’s focused on the needs of your buyers: If you’re just starting out with content marketing, ABM probably isn’t a good fit for your company. Why? Because it requires a significant amount of content, messaging and resources that can be mapped to the buying process of your target prospects.
Inevitably, as you develop joint strategies and campaigns to target the buying teams at these key accounts, you’ll need to create even more content.
High-quality customer data: Because ABM is a one-to-one play, your customer data needs to be spot-on. You only have one opportunity to reach out and influence your target prospects. If your data is wrong, they’ll ignore you and dismiss what you have to offer. Verify leads and details you have about your key accounts and contacts, so that you can operate with accurate, up-to-date information.
Go beyond superficial information about your contacts. Work closely with your sales team to add deeper insights, such as their areas of expertise, pain points and key performance indicators for which they’re held accountable. Formulate detailed personas of each person on the buying team and discern what makes them tick, so you can target content to their deepest needs.
Manpower: In most cases, ABM doesn’t replace your existing marketing program; it complements it. That means you’ll need to be able to assign an inside sales, lead development, or tele-sales person who can manage and sustain your ABM program. Remember: you’ll need to train this person on any ABM or CRM tools you’ll be using to power these campaigns, and how to personalize your content and messaging.
Consistency of messaging over time is key. So make sure you make ABM part of one person’s stated duties, with their performance expectations clearly spelled out. If it’s someone’s “extra job,” chances are that your ABM initiative will quietly die.
Pilot your ABM initiative: When you’re first starting an ABM initiative, it will attract a lot of scrutiny from your firm’s senior management. That’s why it’s best to launch ABM with a pilot program – focused on one segment of your market and one set of personas. That will enable you to develop a tightly-defined set of key accounts, plus a focused collection of content and messaging you will use to influence them.
Your goal is to generate an early win that will validate the wisdom of your approach. That will give you a base of support that you can use to expand your ABM initiative into other markets and groups of targeted prospects.
If you need help developing an account-based marketing strategy, we can help. Contact us today to discuss your needs.